70/30 Nation


So, 36 percent of the American public thinks Obama is doing a good job on the deficit.  In fact, 23 percent didn’t think the stimulus package added to the deficit at all.  That level of miseducation is astounding to anyone even the slightest bit economically informed.  The federal deficit for the 2010 budget is projected to be 10.6 percent of GDP, with an expected increase even higher next year.  This, even though according to our President, we’re in the middle of recovery.  

Federal discretionary spending increased over 80 percent from 2008 to 2010, thus resetting the baseline at an extraordinarily high level.  Every new budget going forward starts at that point and goes upward from there; any reductions are considered cuts – something that almost never happens in Washington.  What does tend to happen is that spending will increase each year, thus ensuring greater and greater deficits, and an exploding national debt as far as the eye can see.

Deficits under George W. Bush were in the 1-3.5 percent range until 2009, for which President Bush and President Obama were both responsible.  Most of us believed spending was out of control under Bush, only exacerbated by the $800 billion (ten year) price tag on Medicare Part D.

President Clinton was elected to his first term in office with a minority of the popular vote, which had been split by Ross Perot with 19 percent.  What was the issue that so divided fiscal conservatives and was the basis of Perot’s campaign?  Concern over a deficit of approximately 4 percent of GDP.

A quick review of articles written during the Bush administration attests to the fact that liberals have been consistently concerned with out-of-control deficits during periods of time when they’ve been a fraction of what they currently are.  I certainly hope this concern is genuine rather than political and we’ll soon see wide-ranging support for massive spending cuts in order to meet the historically consistent level of spending at 18-20 percent of GDP.

Politicians from both parties have been selling out the future of our country in order to buy votes in the here and now, and the rest of us just can’t afford this party any more.

In The Battle, Arthur C. Brooks outlines a consistent 70/30 split among the American population.  That is pretty much what we see in this support for current policies dealing with budget and spending issues.

Nearly 70 percent of Americans agree that they’re better off in a free market economy than not, “despite its severe ups and downs.”  Fifty-six percent of Americans believe their income taxes are too high, while 33 percent believe they’re just right.  Astoundingly, while many Americans believe that the rich should pay more taxes, 69 percent believe that the top tax rate should be 20 percent or lower!  Seventy-six percent believe the strength of America is based on the success of American business and 66 percent believe that when “big business” earns a profit, it helps the economy; alternately, 18 percent believe it hurts (where did they go to school?)  When asked if they would prefer larger government with more services and higher taxes or smaller government with fewer services and lower taxes, only 21 percent of Americans chose larger, more expensive government while 69 percent preferred smaller.*

There is a minority of the population, the 30 percent, who will, due to lack of understanding or pure ideological drive, charge ahead in attempts to completely redefine and transform this nation of freedom and wealth which was unimaginable in the world just a few centuries ago.  It is the rest of us, the 70 percent, the mainstream of America, who stand in their way.  It’s time for the politicians to represent us.

(Polling data excerpted from The Battle by Arthur C. Brooks, Basic Books, 2010, pp. 3-12)


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